How to Get a Ton of New Subscribers to Your Blog

The goal of marketing is to attract more customers. Businesses make an enormous investment to get people in the doors the first time. But what happens after that?

A Digital Envelope - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/PashaIgnatov, Image #16463161

If the customer walks out the door, never to return, the investment is wasted. “Blood on the ground,” as they say. Instead, marketers want the customer to come back—and, hopefully, bring a few friends.

The same is true in the world of blogging. I have never yet met a blogger who didn’t want more traffic. Writers write to be read!

If that’s true for you, then you need to stop focusing on growing your traffic. Instead, you need to concentrate on growing your subscriber list.

Why? Because this list represents your hard-core followers—the ones who are more likely to recruit other readers. This means you don’t have to do it on your own. It is the difference between addition and multiplication.

At the beginning of this year, I realized that I had been guilty of this myself. I was trying to grow my traffic, but wasn’t paying attention to growing my list. I made the RSS button prominent and thought that was enough.

But after reading the advice of several professional bloggers, I realized that I needed to focus on building an email subscription list. From the bloggers perspective, an email list provides bloggers with several advantages over RSS subscriptions:

  • It is more personal. With email, you know who your subscribers are. It also moves the conversation from the impersonal world of RSS readers to the more personal environment of your reader’s inbox.
  • It provides more control. If Google has a glitch and deletes all my RSS subscribers, they are gone. There’s no way to get them back. With my email list management program, I can backup my subscribers on a regular basis.
  • It enables two-way communication. I use my real address when I send out my email newsletter. This enables people to reply and give me their feedback. That email comes straight to me and allows me to respond if necessary.
  • It enables you to track your effectiveness. With RSS, I know how many people subscribe, but I don’t know much beyond this. With my email list software, I have access to numerous reports. For example, I know how many actually opened the email, clicked on the links, unsubscribed, etc.
  • It gives you the opportunity to promote products. I haven’t done this yet, but I will, especially with my new book coming out in May. With RSS, I have to write a blog post to communicate with my subscribers. With email, I can send out a communique any time I want.
  • It provides an easy way to share your content. I have a lot of readers who share my posts on Facebook and Twitter. For that, I am grateful. But I still have thousands of readers who don’t use social media. With email, they can simply forward it to their friends.

Okay, so how do you actually build your email subscriber list? Let me tell you what I did.

Last March, I had just 2,771 email subscribers. That may sound like a lot—I don’t know. It probably depends on where you are. I didn’t think it was very impressive, given the fact that I was getting about 150,000 unique visitors a month. I didn’t seem to be converting many readers into subscribers.

However, in the last nine months, I have grown my list to 30,855 email subscribers (as of this writing). In the same period of time, I have doubled my blog’s traffic, reaching more than 310,000 unique visitors a month.

Here are the seven strategies I used to grow my email subscriber list:

  1. Generate content worth reading. I know this is basic, but I can’t emphasize it enough. No one will subscribe to something they don’t want to read. You have to write quality content—and leave them wanting more.
  2. Use a dedicated list subscription system. You can use Google’s free Feedburner service. In fact, I do use that for RSS. But it doesn’t provide the same level of control you get with paid services like MailChimp or AWeber, I personally use MailChimp. It’s pricey, but I love the control.
  3. Make your signup form highly visible. At the very least, it should be “above the fold,” preferably in the right-hand sidebar. Take a look at how the signup form is positioned on the CopyBlogger or ProBlogger sites. I choose to make mine a pop-up at the bottom of the page. I had my web developer write the code.
  4. Offer an incentive for subscribing. This was huge for me. I wrote an ebook called Creating Your Personal Life Plan and offered it free to anyone who would signup. If you want to consider doing something similar, I posted about the process previously. You could start with a series of posts you have written. Just format it as an e-Book.
  5. Design a branded email template. I hired a developer to design an email template in MailChimp. I wanted the “branding” to match my blog. I also wanted built-in social media buttons, so people could share my posts with their friends and followers. I wanted my subscribers to feel they were getting a high-quality product.
  6. Follow-up with your subscribers. I use MailChimp’s auto-responder feature to send out a welcome message after they confirm their subscription. I thank them for subscribing and tell them what to expect. After three weeks, I send out another message, again thanking them and inviting them to share my posts with their friends. By this time, I am hoping they have found value in what I write.
  7. Remind your readers to signup. My pop-up disappears after the first three times a reader visits. (I think it gets annoying after this.) As a result, I inserted a sign-up form at the bottom of each post. This serves as a reminder, once they have finished reading the post. It may take some people several posts before they get comfortable subscribing.

Your tactics may vary, depending on where you are as a blogger. Still, I think the principles I employed are applicable at every level. With a little focused effort—and perhaps a modest investment of time and money—you can dramatically increase the number of people who subscribe to your blog.

While you are at it, go ahead and subscribe to my blog and see how the pieces all fit together.

Question: What can you apply from this to your blog? What do you need to do next? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • rodlie

    Michael, I recently switched over to Mail Chimp. For a video, if someone clicks on the screen shot of the video that mail chimp sends out, it takes people to the original source of the video (like the youtube or vimeo page) as opposed to the blog post itself, but I noticed that yours doesn’t do that. Can you share how you got it to do that?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I am not sure. My developer, Andrew, may have done that by creating a special RSS feed. I am not sure.

    • http://www.stormyfrog.com/ Andrew Buckman

      We use a custom shortcode for youtube videos combined with a special RSS feed that powers our Mailchimp newsletters to do this. The shortcode generates different content depending on where it’s being displays. Basically, it sends Mailchimp a linked screenshot rather than the video itself, yet shows the video when you’re on the website.

      We did end up including this in the Get Noticed theme if you happen to be using it, but it’s certainly doable without if you have someone to do some custom programming.

      Hope that helps.

      • rodlie

        Thanks, Andrew! I’m not setup with Get Noticed yet. Maybe one day. I do have a programmer I’m working with, but he seems to be at a loss for how to do this. He proposed a solution, but said that it would be over written every time that wordpress made an update. That didn’t seem like the best solution to me. Is there an article online somewhere that I could pass along to him so that he could implement this? Thanks for any help you could provide!!

        • http://www.stormyfrog.com/ Andrew Buckman

          You are correct, absolutely no reason to do anything in a manner that will be overwritten with WP updates. Creating a custom shortcode is probably easiest, but it could also be done with just a custom feed. Sorry I don’t have anything written up to pass along.

      • rodlie

        Hmmm…my developer tried something, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Are there any developers you could recommend that would know how to implement a solution like this?

        • http://www.stormyfrog.com/ Andrew Buckman

          You can send me a contact request ( stormyfrog.com/contact/ ) if you’d like and I’ll quote it out, but I’ll be upfront that I might be slow to respond right now. I’m expecting my first child anytime now.

  • josephjyoung

    Excellent article Mr. Hyatt!

  • http://dougrasku.com/ Doug Rasku

    Great ideas, Michael. I am going to use some of these on my blog.

  • Dan Erickson

    I refuse to use popups at all, but I’ll hand it to you that your site is much less popup annoying than many.

  • http://www.realchaseadams.com/ Chase Adams

    Hey Michael! Great post.

    What are your thoughts on open drop rates from gmail? I’m curious to know how much the tabs update has affected your subscription open rates for gmail announced open rates have decreased 18% since last year.

    It’d be great to hear how it’s impacted you, or if you’ve even noticed an impact at all.

  • Pili

    I have loved this article Mr. Hyatt! Thanks a lot for sharing it, I found it on FB, it has definitely helped me a lot with my blogging and all that that has to do with it. It’s been a bit difficult for me find ideas that can move me forward since I am an Spanish speaking and a Spanish language blogger. I was eager to get tons of followers, but something inside me was telling that I really needed more subscribers.

    Thanks again!

  • http://www.praverb.net/ Patrick McNease

    This post is exactly what I needed to read. Thank you Michael.

  • Anthony

    Great post, Michael. I’m very interested in building my email list as I just launched my site. Two questions. First, I’d like to use my subscribers first names in my email response forms to them and I see you have a first name field in your sign-up form. Can you provide me with the name of this widget? Also, any suggestions for my messaging in here? I see you have a privacy statement, which I think is good. Any other thoughts? I don’t have a newsletter yet, but will be building one. Thoughts on both? Thanks…

  • thegrommom

    Michael–I have been following you for some time, and learning SO MUCH from you. (Thank you! :)) I have bought your Get Published course and am midway through it. I love it! I didn’t know the best place to ask you this, but am wondering about your suggestions for growing a subscriber list (I am a blogger.) You mentioned in a recent video that it is a good idea to simply offer a “resource list” but didn’t go very far into that. I am wondering if you mean a simple list of suggested reading materials, etc…Or what? If so, would it be ok/appropriate to use things that are for example through my Amazon Affiliate program? (books for example.) I hope you get this because I’m searching for more info on this and trying to get my Subscription Incentive put together now! :) ALOHA, and thank you so much!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, exactly. Something like this would work. (This is a page on my site, but I have converted it to a resource list I plan to offer next month as an incentive.)

      • thegrommom

        Thank you SO much!! I can’t tell you how much i appreciate what you do and who you are. Bless you.

  • http://www.praverb.net/ Praverb

    Great post Michael. I learned that I need to think outside of Feedburner. I was using Mailchimp when I was promoting my music but I stopped using it. Time to start utilizing it again. I love the idea of presenting a product as well. I need to create something worthwhile. Thank you Michael.

  • http://100computertricks.blogspot.com/ Mike

    I have learnt a lot from this this and I thank you for your education…